Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bad Axe on Permanent Records

Two brothers Dennis and Danny Gray named their band Bad Axe, which is a city in Michigan, close to Chicago where they were from. It also sounds a lot like 'Bad Ass' which is completely appropriate for this sludgey '70s heavy rock recorded in 1973 to be exact. Five long hair bad asses (see sleeve) went into the studio to get these two songs on reel to reel tape. They must have pressed up a few hundred copies, one of which managed to end up at Permanent Records and is a truly incredible time capsule.

A-Side's "Coachman" opens with a trio of beefy low end guitars washed out in fuzz and chopped into blunt bricks. Everything screams '70s, the kind of muddy tube production that you can't even fake these days. Bouncy, no make that insane groovy bass from Stan Marcheska that flies all over this thing like he's been let out of a cage. Thin vocals from the Gray's and songwriter J. Turner are pushed to that early metal background that corrals the harmonies coming off like Hawkwind meeting Crazy horse. They can technically compete with those guys and still manage that loose Easy Rider, bar in the woods vibe. Solo perfection over bass punches makes you ask why there isn't this much lower end boosted in rock these days? We are in treble heavy garage my friends. Wackka strumming shows up towards the end and their guitars line up in a Sabbath way stopping immediately and giving the drums a chance to step into the spotlight. Timeless perfection from a couple of buddies with a big dream. Before your time, Bad Axe.

B-Side's "Poor Man, Run" also sets the tempo with compact fuzz and the drums take that skeleton riff into snare wailing head banging. An acoustic blows with melodic high register vocals from J. adding an air of psych to the otherwise beefy proceedings. Lofty vocals about this 'poor man' and 'no tomorrow' give this a serious medieval Yes sound with NO ORGAN. It all breaks down to drums and a Stairway to Heaven acoustic and bass moment that grows into solo after solo and more freakout double tempos from Stan, someone look that guy up. This one turns into a real Hotel California epic with ride cymbals into the sunset, more than enough to leave you sad that it's over and sadder that they may not have ended up recording anything else.

Get it from Permanent Records Chicago.

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